“If we accept the premise that it’s government’s job to look after people’s parents in homes,” says one minister, “we’ll end up paying for a second NHS.” (Telegraph 20 Feb.) It answers the question in my E-Send last month as to what accounts for the government’s reluctance to come up with a properly funded social care plan – is it political or ideological? The press report showed that it was worst – it’s arrogant, misinformed and totally out of touch with reality. (It’s on a par with Marie Antoinette’s remark, who, when told there was no bread for the French people, said, ‘let them eat cake.’)
The facts are 1) people look after their parents often at great sacrifice to themselves, especially the ‘sandwich generation’ who are also looking after their own children: 2) very frail older people need what used to be called ‘nursing care’, before it was changed to ‘residential care’, 3) people with dementia often need specialist care – at present, 1,000 a day are being ‘dumped’ in A&E and then admitted to the hospital, 4) the Dilnott report showed that the total spend on social care would be relatively minor compared to that on the NHS – and would save the NHS £millions.
The minister who made that statement needs to come out of his or her comfortably padded silo and see what’s happening in real life. Should his (or her) parents need care, they could probably afford to pay for it – but he (she) doesn’t see how unfair it is for those who have to sell their homes to afford to pay. Or, even worst, the thousands who don’t own their own home so have nothing to sell, and who struggle and suffer on their own in silence. Often they are admitted through A&E to hospital, malnourished, depressed, and with infections that could have been treated earlier if they’d had free social care. Sadly, the minister who made the revealing remark wasn’t named in the report. A pity – hundreds of thousands of people would have liked to have had a word with him.